Do I need to be Top of AdWords?

Do I need to be Top of AdWords?

Simple question, do you need to be top of PPC search results?

Many clients would come to us saying they want to be top of Google… until we show them the average CPC’s (cost-per-click) in their industry. We would always start by telling clients, they actually need to be in the most cost effective position for their product/service. So, calculate how much you want to pay for a sale, apply any online/offline conversion rates, and work backwards from there to establish a max CPC. The CPC will then dictate where the ads show on the page.

Really, what we are ultimately targeting is the website highest conversion rate at a CPC that is cost effective. So, where does such a combination exist? Top (position 1-4) or bottom (positions 5-8). Let’s not get into individual positions just yet.

Conversion Rates

In general, conversion rates depend on several aspects, such as:

  • Keywords – if its not relevant, it’s not going to convert
  • Ad copy – if it doesn’t ‘sell’, it’s not going to convert
  • Landing pages – if they aren’t trustworthy, they aren’t going to convert
  • (Also, your product/service is massive factor, but i’m going a assume you have that covered!)

All those aspects are irrelevant to ad position and CPC aren’t they?

Lets look at a few scenarios:

  • What if your ads rank at the top, but your ad copy isn’t really relevant to the user’s search query?
  • What if your competitors’ ads are more relevant than than yours? Maybe even offer more benefits than yours?
  • What if your ads do bring traffic, but your landing page fails to convince them to convert?

All of the above are going to affect your conversion rate, yes? But, they would affect your conversion rate at any ad position, surely? Therefore making the ad position irrelevant?

Top v Other Ad Position

So back to the original question, does ad position effect conversion rate? Lets look at some real numbers:

Below is a comparison of 16 campaigns over the last 12 months, comparing the top of the page conversion rate, with the bottom (and what was side) of the page conversion rate.

We can see that 11 of the 16 campaigns have a higher conversion rate when at the top of the page.

Cost-per-Conversion (CPA)

With that in mind, the next question should be, “is it cost effective to be at a higher position?”. Just because it converts higher, that doesn’t mean its cost effective. It could be really expensive to be up there. Again, all other things being equal, the higher the position, the higher the CPC. So you do need to be wary, and follow the numbers.

We can now see that 7 of the 16 campaigns achieve a lower CPA at the top of the page. 3 other are extremely close and are in progress of being pushed a little harder.

The Results

So, if we can verify that yes, being top of the page does actually affect conversion rates and in a positive way for the most part. We know the aim of direct response advertising is to get the maximum number of conversions by spending the least possible amount. But what we must not do is  get stuck in the black hole of ticking over at a low bid, in a low position, with low conversions, just because its cost effective. Sometimes you need to take a leap, explore, jump in and see what is ultimately possible. Or would you rather never know?


One final thing, according to our campaigns, being top of the page (top 4, rather than bottom 4), increased visits by 711%…. that’s seven hundred and eleven percent. “Hello volume, where have you been all my life?”

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The Author

Michael Barlow

Michael has worked in digital marketing for over 20 years. He is a certified Google Ads expert and has overseen the design and development of more than 100 websites. Michael has helped manage dozens of businesses’s marketing spend, growing their revenue year-on-year through innovative online marketing methods.

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